I’m The ‘Other Woman’… And So Are You
There are few things in life I love more than a good movie. I watch a movie nearly every night and I try to get to the theater as often as possible. Not to brag, but I’ve been Family Video’s “Costumer of the Week” twice now.
But as much as I like to put on my movie snob persona and discuss the art behind Oscar-worthy films, few movies get me as excited as a good romantic comedy. I’m talking about true, dialogue-driven, heart-mendingly cheesy RomComs. I’m talking Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks goodness. That good old Hugh Grant tear jerker. Is every plot essentially the same at its’ core? Yes. Will I watch and love it every time? You bet your Nora Ephron loving heart I will.
When you’ve condescendingly proclaimed yourself a RomCom connoisseur, as I have, you begin to notice a few tropes that happen in every RomCom worth its’ weight. For instance, has there ever been a RomCom without a goofy best friend who only exists to break up the tension with humor? Or a moment where the main couple you’ve been cheering for the whole time run into each other’s embrace? Or that time-honored tradition of watching the main man finally realize that the ‘other woman’, who was never right for him anyways, doesn’t truly understand him like the leading lady does? Of course not! And even though I know these things are going to happen, I’ll laugh at every best friend one-liner, tear up at every loving embrace, and cheer when the ‘other woman’ finally gets what’s coming to her.
But here’s the issue: the older I get the more I feel for the ‘other woman’. As much as the writers do their best to portray her as a flirtatious, judgmental, deeply-flawed human being, I’m having such a hard time getting past that last part. The human being part. Yeah, I get that she’s fictional, but think this through with me for a minute. This girl, for all her faults, really believes the leading man loves her. And then suddenly he meets someone better and she is just left, presumably heart-broken, as an afterthought to the plot.
And the idea of being that ‘other woman’ scares me to death. Because what if I’m the deeply-flawed character everyone is rooting against? It may be an irrational fear, but it’s one that I’m willing to bet we’ve all entertained at some point or another. What if everyone we love will only love us until someone better comes along?
This fear is what makes school age kids strive day after day to get that mean kid to like them, even though they don’t really like that mean kid in the first place. This fear is what drives teenage girls and boys to make decisions that keep parents up at night. This fear is what makes adults settle for someone or something that is totally wrong for them, in hopes that it will somehow validate their existence. And this fear, the fear of being less than and unlovable, is what makes God’s grace so hard to believe.
Because even though we may show up to church every week, and talk a good game about our “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” at the end of the day we are all faced with the same lie: You are not good enough to be loved by God. You are not worthy to be loved by Love Himself.
I want you to repeat after me: Jesus is not a trope. He is not a leading man who fits nicely into our plot-driven brains. He isn’t interested in our arguments for why we should be loved, and He certainly isn’t interested in our explanations of why we shouldn’t be. Jesus doesn’t love based on who we are, but because of who He is.
Don’t take my word on it – look at what Scripture says:
“Behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of His garment, for she said to herself, ‘If I only touch his garment, I will be made well’. Jesus turned, and seeing her He said, ‘Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well’.” – Matthew 9:16
This woman wasn’t leading lady material. She was sick, and not in a pretty way. In a having your period for 12 straight years way. Her neighbors more than likely assumed it was because she was a sinner who wouldn’t repent. She couldn’t even live a normal life because of this. Everything about her made her feel and look unworthy. So unworthy, that she wouldn’t even talk to Jesus directly. Instead she snuck up behind Him, just so she could touch the fringe of His garment.
And what does Jesus say to her? Not some cheesy RomCom line, not a dramatic moment in which she undergoes a miraculous makeover and becomes the Cinderella we all knew she was. No, Jesus looks down on this unworthy, less than, ‘other woman’ and says, “Take heart, daughter”.
Take heart. Take heart because I see you when you’re not even sure you want to be seen. Take heart because nothing about you can make me turn away from you. Take heart because I AM who I AM and nothing you do can ever change that.
Church, it’s about time we take heart. Stop doing things based on the fear that you’re the ‘other woman’ and start doing them based on the knowledge that you are God’s chosen people. Stop acting based on the fear of losing love and start acting based on the knowledge of who Love is. Stop speaking to gain Earthly love and start speaking to spread heavenly love.
I’m always going to feel a little bit like the ‘other woman’. It’s a part of my sinful nature and it’s a part of yours. Let’s stop fighting for a silly RomCom kind of love. Let’s stop acting on our insecurities. Let’s start living in Jesus’ love.
Director of Youth Ministry
Insecure and Loved
Redeemer Lutheran Church